Monday, March 28, 2011

March 28, 2011 - Captive to a Commitment!

Sitting in the gym early Monday morning, listening to the rain on the roof and the sound of the basketball on the hardwood…

We (Clay and I) have been here for a half-an-hour and have another half-an-hour to go before we report for the school day. I must admit that when the alarm went off this morning and I thought about the extra hour I could have of sleep it was a struggle to plod down the stairs and wake Clay. Yet here we are…captive to a commitment!

Recently some good friends of mine blessed us greatly. Their names are Jason and Christy Otter. They run Otter’s School of Basketball and Jason is the best clinician I have ever witnessed. Don’t get me wrong, I have seen a lot of tremendous ball handling and shooting instructors through the years, yet Jason has that special ability to not only give the best technical advice but also the best motivational push to players.

They have blessed us by sacrificing extra time, energy, and effort to pour into Clay as a player and a young man. Clay not only participates in Jason’s clinics but has now received a personal workout agenda from Jason to help Clay become the best player he can be. With what is listed out via the computer screen, Clay is very clear on what the objective is from Jason. Yet the key is not just the objective but the “commissioning.”

Jason and Christy have sacrificed for Clay; therefore their words carry a lot of weight. Clay’s “commitment” is simply a logical response to agree to the “mission” of the “commissioning.” And I love it when Clay or I receive an email or text from the Otters simply encouraging and reminding Clay that he “better be working” and that it will make him the best he can be! That creates an accountability to stay the course…

Do you see where I am going with this? Christ has sacrificed for us! He gave His life for us! He has “commissioned” us to a specific job of being His “ambassadors – ministers of reconciliation.” (See 2 Corinthians 5:16-21)

If you have put your faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ for your salvation, then you are officially a “mission”-ary: a person called to “commit” to the great com-“mission” to share the Gospel with a lost and dying world!

I know you all know what the “mission” is; now it is time to execute it! It is time to be “Captive to a Commitment!”

Monday, March 21, 2011

March 21, 2011 - It's Over, Yo!

Do you ever struggle in your Christian walk? Is there a particular thing that is weighing you down? Does it feel at times like the enemy is getting the best of you?

Yes there is an enemy! Yes there is a battle raging! Yes we have the potential as Christians to let our flesh win out over the Spirit! Sometimes this game of life is simply not going the way we intended…

Galatians 5:16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Did you see that? Sometimes we simply do not do the things we wish or know we should do. (The same is true in a game. I sit and laugh often at fans screaming at a player that has messed up – as though he intended to do so…)

Yet in honor of March Madness I must share quite possibly my favorite quote of all tourneys. Early in Ohio State’s game against George Mason, Jared Sullinger (OSU’s star big man) was being pushed around by the GM big men. He committed 3 straight turnovers and some of the GM players were even mocking him. I am sure that Sullinger did not intend to play that way; and I am sure that the opponent’s mocking of him helped remind him of the powerful, incredible player that he truly is. As a response Sullinger bumped into one of the GM players and simply said, “It’s over, yo.” And it was over! OSU proceeded to thump GM in a major way.

I think sometimes we forget some things in our Christian lives. The enemy mocks us in our frailty. Yet, even though in our strength we are no match for the enemy, in Christ we are more than conquerors. (Romans 8:37) Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world! (1 John 4:4) And then in 1 John 5 we see that the Spirit that is in us does not sin.

So in this battle of flesh and Spirit we have the call to walk in the Spirit - a call to live a life of victory. It is a call to look at the enemy and say, “It’s over, yo!”

Monday, March 14, 2011

March 14, 2011 - Purpose and a Plan

As I write this week I am sitting on the back porch at my in-laws’ house in West Palm Beach. As I enjoy the warmth of the sunshine, I am reminded of how much we like to be comfortable. And honestly the afternoon has been great as I listened to some music, did some reading, etc. Yet I am here so I can hop a plane in the morning to the Dominican Republic for some outreach.

Often times people look at me funny when they hear of me going to other countries to reach out with the Gospel of Christ. To most it is simply not a reasonable thing. From many I hear that I need to be careful because things are bad in this world. (Not sure if people have noticed that even in the USA things are bad…) Many will make remarks that there is enough need in the USA to keep us busy, so why spend time over “there” (wherever my “there” is on a given trip.)

I was recently asked to speak in a “missions” chapel and I keyed on the word “mission” as being something that has a purpose and a plan. Christ was very clear with our purpose: Preach the gospel and make disciples! (Matthew 28 and Mark 16) The Apostle Paul was moved by the Holy Spirit in his second letter to the Corinthians, in the 5th chapter, to remind us that we have been called to be “ambassadors” with a purpose of helping others be “reconciled to God.” Our PURPOSE is never changing: share the life-giving message of salvation by grace through faith in the finished work of Christ!

Yet our game PLAN changes often on how to get the Word out. Often I use sports camps/clinics; other times we take in doctors for medical clinics; yet other times I am simply given a platform from which to speak; and sometimes it is as simple as sitting next to someone on the airplane, taking interest in them, and seizing opportunities to share a message of hope.

As a coach I design different sets and plays; I teach players to “take what the defense gives them”; I go into games with different plans, yet one purpose – get the ball in the hole more times than the opponent. (As a player I prided myself on being able to get my shot off no matter who [or how many people] was on me – I had a purpose!)

Therefore as a Christian I have been given a purpose from God – to know Him and to make Him known. I will go and share the Gospel! Will you?

(As a humorous ending I will tell a story on my buddy David. We were coaching a game and the players were not performing very well. David called a timeout in his frustration and brought the boys into the huddle. His great words of wisdom were as follows: “You see that round orange thing up there? The ball is supposed to go through it!” And then we broke from the huddle. I have often laughed at the simplicity of that timeout. Yet it was also very profound. We know what we are supposed to do; so why aren’t we?)

Monday, March 7, 2011

March 7, 2011 - It's Game On!

“Alright Team, it is time to lace ‘em up!” A basketball player knows that means it is game time! A football player looks forward to the time to be “in pads” – he knows some contact is on the way. A race car driver looks forward to the words “Gentlemen, start your engines.”

Athletes love the time when they get to compete. They love the time when the adrenaline gets pumping. They love to be at that point when it’s “Game On!”

Can you imagine a basketball player running out onto the court in dress shoes to play? Can you imagine a football player saying, “I don’t need any pads”? Can you imagine a race car driver jumping in his car still in regular clothes, ignoring his helmet, ignoring his safety harness, etc.?

Simply put, when it “Game On!” athletes should be prepared mentally and physically. They should be “dressed out” and ready to go!

Guess what? It is “Game On!” for us as believers. Or better put, it is “Battle On!” I have been preaching through the letter to the Ephesians the last few Sundays and yesterday I dealt with the armor of God.

Ephesians 6: 13 begins with the word “therefore.” It is saying that since the truth is that we are in a battle that is spiritual in nature, we should make sure that we are clothed properly. Verses 14-17 explain the importance of God’s truth and righteousness; the importance of our faith in the promises of God; the importance of God’s protection in our lives; and the importance of our “game plan” of spreading the Gospel of peace.

My question this week is very simple: Did you “dress out” today for “the game”? Or are you reading this sitting on the “sidelines” in your “street clothes”?

Daily we need to be searching the Scriptures for God’s truth and instruction in righteousness! Daily we need reminded of His glorious promises; that we can trust Him!

Verse 18 then reminds us of the importance to pray – for yourself and for each other. Daily we should pray on His armor and be prepared for battle.

Ephesians 6:13-18Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You'll need them throughout your life. God's Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other's spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out. (The Message)

It’s Game On!